One of the magical elements that makes Predator Ridge such a special place, is the abundance of wildlife that calls our 1,200 acres home. It's not uncommon to run into a family of deer while out on any of our hiking trails, spot a pack of wood ducks taking a swim in any of our ponds or catch a yellow-bellied marmot soaking up some rays on any of our granite outcroppings. Predator Ridge is in the heart of nature.
Predator Ridge is located in The Commonage - an area of grasslands, ranches and wooded hills south of Vernon and one of the North Okanagan's top birding routes. More than 300 species of birds, including some 200 breeding species, are found around the Okanagan.
Birdie Lake located off The Ridge hole 15, is one of the best viewing spots to see a variety of birds and ducks. We have a viewing platform just off the Birdie Lake trail, which is a great spot to stop and take in a symphony of bird calls and songs. While you're golfing, keep your eyes open at any of our numerous ponds and look above for the numerous birds of prey that The Commonage area is a famous for (especially on The Predator Course).
Outside of the resort, we've compiled some birding hot spots along The Commonage according to some local birding experts.
- Located approximately 2km east of Predator Ridge
- Look out for:
- In the spring, Tree Swallows nesting in old cavities, nesting Northern Flickers and the occasional nesting duck such as a Hooded Merganser.
- Ducks on the pond often include Gadwalls, Redheads, Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaups, and Ruddy Ducks as well as the occasional Pied-billed or Eared grebe.
- Brewer's Blackbirds nest nearby as do Red-winged Blackbirds and Yellow-headed Blackbirds.
- During summer Killdeer and Spotted Sandpipers are resident, while during spring and fall migration the odd shorebird species such as a Black-bellied Plover or Least Sandpipers have been known to turn up.
- Watch for Osprey, Turkey Vultures, Bald Eagles, American Kestrels, and Swainson's Hawks around the pond as well.
Allan Brooks Nature Centre
- Located approximately 8km east of Predator Ridge
- Look Out For:
- Western Bluebirds and Tree Swallows nesting in the bird boxes along the fence lines.
- Red-tailed Hawks of dark, intermediate, rufous, and light morphs are frequent around the big crop field.
- Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk, a race that breeds in the interior of the Yukon and Alaska, also occurs on the Commonage as a migrant and uncommon winter resident. Most Red-tails will be "Western" Red-tails of the subspecies "calurus".
- In from May through early September also look for Swainson's Hawks which occasionally breed around the Army Camp as well as in one or two other spots along Commonage Road.
- From late October to early April, Rough-legged Hawks from the Arctic occur either as migrants or as winterers. It's not unusual to see several Red-tails and Rough-legs in a winter birding trip along this route.
- Gray Partridges have been seen consistently in the crop field; however, this field is private property and trespassing is forbidden. You may glimpse a covey as you pass the field or see one along Brooks Way, which leads to the Brooks Nature Centre.
- The Centre, open from May to mid October, is well worth a stop, especially if you have young children. There are several fascinating displays explaining the ecology and natural history of the Commonage. More details: www.abnc.ca
- Birds of prey are frequently seen flying over the knoll the center is located on
- A colony of Yellow-bellied Marmots is active from April into July.
- Located just short of the junction of Commonage and Benchrow roads, pull off to the left to park in a dead end lane between the fence line and a pump house. The land up slope belongs to the Department of National Defense so it is not considered trespassing.
- Look out for:
- Clay-coloured Sparrows, Spotted Towhees, Eastern Kingbirds, Say's Phoebes, Bullock's Orioles, California Quail and other common birds of the brush.
- A small colony of Columbian Ground Squirrels is also present.
- The wooded gulley on the right is good for Dusky Flycatchers, Warbling Vireos and Gray Catbirds.
- In winter the slopes here are a good spot to find a Townsend's Solitaire guarding its winter food source, a berry bush.
Commonage Road between Bailey Road & Predator Ridge
- Look out for:
Check the roadside marshes for small colonies of Yellow-headed Blackbirds and Soras.
Eastern Kingbirds, Western Kingbirds, House Wrens, American Goldfinches, Cedar Waxwings, Yellow Warblers and Bullock's Orioles are common summer residents.
A variety of Swainson's Hawk nests have been found throughout the area
Wigeons, Wood Ducks and Canvasbacks have been spotted in the various ponds
1km east of Predator Ridge you will find Mackay Reservoir, an impoundment of treated sewage water that attracts many species of waterfowl and, depending upon water levels, shorebirds during migration. Be aware that both east and west dikes are next to active shooting ranges and sometimes archery ranges controlled by the Vernon Fish and Game Club.
Just past the main turn off to Predator Ridge, the brush on either side of Commonage Road attracts Clay-coloured Sparrows. In the summer, Saskatoon berry bushes can attract Western Tanagers, Nashville Warblers, and Black-headed Grosbeaks from the nearby dry forest.
We would like to thank Janet Brown Photography for use of all the beautiful bird images featured with this article. Janet can be reached through her Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/JanetBrownPhotography or through her website at: www.janetbrownphotography.com
Make sure to FOLLOW Janet on Facebook, she has a lot more AMAZING wildlife photography!